The success of ‘Mad Men’ over the last few years has meant lots of people view advertising in a very different way. Not only do we now appreciate ads as a sort of art form but we appreciate how far they’ve come over the decades.

Oh yes – big ideas, stunning visuals and striking wordplay are par for the course on billboards and print ads these days, so it’s about time we recognised the work, creativity and ground-breaking design skills that go into them. To that end we’ve put together a stunning showcase of print ads, to demonstrate that ‘selling out’ can sometimes prove to be very aesthetically and intellectually rewarding…


Nexcare

Harking back to Nirvana’s iconic Nevermind album cover, this tranquil yet kinetic ad for Nexcare bandages uses water to create a striking visual. The water somehow communicates ideas of freedom of movement, as well as a sense of protection. As such it’s ideal for a healthcare product. This globally translatable concept comes from agency Grey 141, who are based in São Paulo, Brazil.


Ziploc

The idea behind this cling wrap ad is simple. Freshness is the key benefit of using Ziploc and so a clean ‘before and after’ principle has been employed by the Beijing agency, Strange Idea Ad, who created the ad. Bold colours and shapes make the piece eye-catching and give the subject room to breathe. The use of space also adds a sense of hygiene to the composition, which is always important when it comes to dealing with foodstuffs.


Coca Cola

It isn’t just small, dynamic brands who take risks with visually creative ads. Here Coca Cola decided to highlight Planet Day with this striking depiction of nature and destruction. The use of rippled water, fleeing birds and a flaming ball of what looks like lava, taps into the raw power of nature. Arguably though it paints what is perhaps the world’s most famous soft drink as the source of destruction, as it is from the bottle that the flames explode.


The Walrus

This Canadian ad elegantly demonstrates that effective print ads don’t always have to focus on imagery over text. Closer inspection of the copy reveals a witty tone that sings the praises of quality journalism – namely The Walrus magazine – over ‘magazines that offer 16 exercises for a flatter stomach’. It also uses overt reverse psychology to undermine the assumptions of the reader and encourage them to continue to read. The text manages to carve this brand a dignified niche amongst more trashy magazines and the heavy use of text over frothy pictures compliments and reflects their ethos very effectively.


Lumix

This eye-catching print ad is all about delivering a point of view. It places the viewer in the place of the person in the ad, who can be seen (or their feet can at any rate) riding on the back of a whale. The strap ‘Welcome to the front row’ describes the supposedly all-consuming experience of using this camera. Meanwhile the fact that only parts of the whales can be seen mid-action gives it an exciting kind of energy.


Sonik Sports

The fantastical nature of this ad makes it aspirational, while perfectly capturing the tranquility of the sport to which it relates. The kingfisher and fishing have a natural tie and by directly and colourfully linking the fisherman with nature, it encourages them to think that this equipment could help to take them one step closer to being nature’s perfect predator. The seamless connection between the man’s body and the bird’s head also makes it visually arresting and the flawless finish of the graphic suggests that this is a premium brand.


Avis

This knowing ad for Avis uses humour to great effect. It also employs the kind of gratuitous car shots that automobile fans will go gaga for. The gag of course is that people attending their school reunion have hired luxury cars to impress their former classmates. This does not become clear until you see the tag in the bottom right hand corner, simply ‘Luxury car rental’. This ad is the master of the understatement.s.


Beijing Sports Radio

This concise ad for Beijing Sports Radio demonstrates how the most simple of ideas can have a really big impact. By taking an instantly recognisable visual – that of a boxing ring in this instance – and making one slight adjustment, the image becomes jarring to the viewer, who is forced to question why that is. Here the ring is transformed into a speech bubble, translating the fact that this sports radio station brings you all the action through no more than speech.


Australian Defense Force

This unapologetically epic ad is essentially a modern day military propaganda piece, playing up the power of the Australian Defense Force by employing the sheer scale of the elements and the unharnessed power of nature. As a viewer of the ad you’d be reassured by this as an image of your country’s defense and potentially revved up enough to enlist. This is a team you’d want to be on. The use of the helicopter in the foreground lends scale to the enormous power behind it, whereby the stampeding bulls serve as an impressive metaphor.


Google

As you’d expect from Google, this ad combines playfulness with intelligence and flawless execution. The viewer is left to work out that instead of ‘battleship’, ‘battlesheep’ may have been typed into the search engine, which gives them a sense of satisfaction as well as engagement. But beyond the irreverent sense of humour, the dramatic imagery of a sheep in a war-zone is impressively convincing and atmospheric in its absurdity.

Are there any beautifully designed Print Ads that you’ve found that deserve a mention?

Let us know in the comments.

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